…Authors… it’s time to come to terms with our awesomeness…

…this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler is grateful for whatever Providence it was which compelled me to join my local library when I was only four years old…

…the Elder Park Public Library at Langlands Road in Dockside Govan in Glasgow seems an improbable  galaxy away from where I currently sit, perched in my writing eyrie in the Middle East (I live on the 44th level of a tower block encompassed by sand dunes and the waters of the Arabian Gulf – it’s almost high enuff to see Scotland from here!)… even at this distance in time, I can savour the delight and pleasure that leapt from the pages of the volumes borrowed from the junior section shelves…

…as my ability to devour older-pitched WURKS by my Authorial Gods, the Steinbeck-es, the Dickens-es, the Vernes-es, the O’Hara-es, the Umberto-es, the Ruark-es, the myriad legions of great writers, the deeper grew my appreciation of what treasures unfolded from their minds… their incredible gift of transporting others to lands and universes at the turn of a page… and I relate that phenomenon to the countless millions (yes, Mabel… millions) of we present-day toilers-of-the-laptops, the fillers-up-of-table-napkins-with-story-ideas… whatever we may self-deprecatingly think of our own efforts to transcribe from our wee grey cells to our books, novels, poems, and plays – we are creating sum’thing that sumb’dy, sum’where, is going to marvel at…

…the ubiquitous doubt that frequently creeps into our heads about whether or not our stuff is ‘good enuff’, can be kicked into touch… I really should not be surprised, but still am from time to time, when I come across a phrase or even just a WURD in an emerging Author’s book, where I have to stop for a moment and say, ‘wow!’… all of us who write have that inherent gift… Authors… it’s time to come to terms with our awesomeness… enjoy!… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

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…Authors… how my ‘Jack Calder’ character developed…

…ten  years ago, Master Gallacher had a faint notion to ‘write that book’ we all supposedly have in us… frankly, it was never intended to roll on into more than that initial novel, THE VIOLIN MAN’S LEGACY… the Jack Calder crime thriller series now has segued into five titles on Auntie Amazon Kindle, with a sixth as Work In Progress, and with an aggregate of more than 100,000 copies downloaded to date (gazillion thanks, you wunnerful, supportive readers!)… given that stretch of time, I can look back on how the various stages of development of Jack Calder’s character have evolved… it may be of interest to some of my fellow-scribblers as they trudge the same happy path to literary destiny…

PHASE ONE : The faint idea of a male character forms in my wee grey cells… NUTHIN more than that… a big guy, ‘coz he’s former SAS… a reasonably fit physique, ‘coz he’s gonna be involved in some fighting action… give him a bit of height, six foot two inches tall, blue eyes and blondish hair… nationality, Scottish… even more localized – from Docklands Govan in Glasgow, coz that’s my own birthplace and stamping ground… write what you know about, they said, right?… right!…

PHASE TWO : Along comes some of the ‘humanising’ stuff… feelings, emotions… particularly for this  ‘hard, tough-as-nails’ guy… it’s amazing how sensible it seems to have even this ‘trained-to-the-nth-to-kill’ legal assassin show that it’s not all ‘breathe-kill-breathe-kill again-have dinner-sleep’… that in the quiet recesses of his own mind there are conflicts, questions of morality…

PHASE THREE: More incidences of interaction with others around him… close friendships… even loving relationships… demonstrations of caring… the counterpoint to the ‘day job’ requirements… only a handful of ‘forever buddies’, regardless of how many ‘acquaintances’ he may acquire… vulnerabilities that nobody else is permitted to see, apart from his ‘significant other’

PHASE FOUR: Driven more by ‘what-is-right’ rather than by ‘what-pays-tons-of-money’...

PHASE FIVE: The full character is now recognisable to the reader… the prevailing narrative can leave unstated much of what impacts the character as he goes about his business, as the reader is now equipped to formulate that piece of the writing in his or her own mind, allowing me as the author to focus on other ‘bits’ of the story…

… so there you are – Master Gallacher’s understanding of how his characters come ‘alive’… for other players in the cast, shake the bottle and repeat ‘ad inforeverum’… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

THE VIOLIN MANS LEGACY

myBook.to/theviolinmanslegacy

VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK

myBook.to/vengeancewearsblack

SAVAGE PAYBACK

myBook.to/savagepayback

KILLER CITY

myBook.to/calderkillercity

DEADLY IMPASSE

myBook.to/Calderdeadlyimpasse

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…my Guest Blogger, m’Lady, Seher Hashmi, has had a peek at Boris Johnson’s diary…

…one of my dear friends, and a fellow member of the Bahrain Writers Circle, the charming, m’Lady, Seher Hashmi, is a highly accomplished poetess…

…however, there is much more to her literary prowess than merely poetry… here is a remarkably amusing and insightful prod at Boris Johnson, who oft-times finds himself ‘hoist with his own petard’Seher herself is a Muslim woman, very much of the modern world… enjoy her Guest Blog Post:

giphy.com

A Day in the Itinerary of Boris Johnson

6:30: Wakes up startled by jangling alarm mimicking the sound of firecrackers. Bangs the stop key, gasping like crazy.

6:40: Sits up straight, practicing balloon-breathing in bed.

6:50: Curses Trump, mouthing unspeakable profanities for at least 5 more minutes.

6:55: Changes the alarm setting to windchime, regrets letting his youngest grandkid play with his cell for a while.

7:00: Checks his Twitter which is breaking down with #apologiseJohnson #IslamophobicJohnson #hatefulJohnson. Takes sweet time going through all trending hashtags in a hope to find #YayJohnson or #GoodjobJohnson, in vain.

8:00: Shuts down his search and decides to go for a morning jog.

8:05: Catches his reflection in life-size mirror, wearing red and black chequered robe topped with his silvery tousled tuft; shrugs off an instant thought likening him to an old style British phone booth capped with snow, and changes into shorts and tee for the run.

8:30: While on his way down the street, finds himself running with at least 25 red-burka-clad ladies/letterboxes chanting in low rasping whispers, ‘Apologise!’.

8:35: Baffled, asks his bodyguard to take ladies away, who replies after giving him a fairly long look of concern, “Sir, guess you didn’t sleep well!”.

…8:40: Decides to cut short his run and takes a detour in his Aston Martin, sitting snuggled between his bodyguards,wondering if he saw burka-clad ladies or burka-clad letterboxes.

9:00: Takes shower, with bodyguard sitting inside washroom, covering eyes with his hands in case burka-clad ladies or letterboxes sneak in to infringe upon his privacy.

9:10: Catches bodyguard red-handed peeping through slits between his fingers and shames him, naming ‘Peeping Bod’.

9:30: Arrives by the breakfast table to find red velvet loaf served with black tea. Hesitantly nibbles on it while watching on tele the P.M Mrs. May urging him to apologise to people for his reckless remarks on Muslim women’s dressing code.

10:00: Skips eating; checks his cell phone and reads a message from his youngest son pleading with him to render apology, else his burka-donning GF will not do household chores for him.

10:30: Silently resolves to stay strong; picks up today’s newspaper where his wife’s picture blazes on the front-page headlining, “Human rights advocate, Mariana Johnson, demands apology from her husband and threatens failing to do so will end up in divorce”. Spills tea over his white shirt and yells out to his P.A., waving newspaper before him. Asks him to read out the entire news about Mariana. After a good five minutes of skimming and scanning, the P.A. lifts his head with a look given to a lunatic who insists upon being sane while being examined by a certified psychiatrist.

11:00: Calls his bodyguard to put him through to his daughter to gain her sympathy. She informs him right away about the rally of over a hundred feminist friends of hers, asking for women’s right to choose their dressing and his apology for dictating to them about it. Squeaks and squeals like a mouse to know his own daughter is heading and arranging it.

12:00: Curses Trump for putting extremist ideas into his head during his visit to the U.K.

12:30: Calls Trump only to be told that he is busy shooting out highly important tweets.

1:00: Regrets his own weakness for Russian beauty, fancying Melania and casting evil eye on Trump, which he is sure is the reason why Trump was able to delude him the way he did.

2:30: Frustrated, sends DM to Trump on twitter. He doesn’t reply.

3:30: Gets anonymous DM regarding Jeremy Corbin’s apology over anti-Semitism issue. A lesson in apology.

4:30: Switches tele to watch latest season of The Great British Bake Off only to realize another head-covering British woman has won it again.

5:30: Hitting different buttons on remote, flips through different channels and finally settles for, ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’; gawps absentmindedly to see all the Kardashian girls in black abayas with hijabs on heads, celebrating the spirit of Ramadan.

6:30: Turns off tele and rings Trump again and this time manages to catch him. Speaks his mind to him asking for help. Trump bashes Theresa May for not having balls enough to stand up for Boris Johnson against extreme-right factions within the party. Hangs up on Trump soon realizing Mrs. May isn’t supposed to have any.

7:30: Switches off all the electronic devices to block out horrific criticism. Sits down to tea served by celebrity cook Begum Nadiya Hussain, a head-covering lady of Muslim origin, in black abaya.

8:30: Completely drained of energy and strength, powers on the cell and sends his first tweet of the day, inserting broken heart emoji and apologises to all Muslim women for mocking them recklessly. Ends it with a namaste emoji meant to seek forgiveness.

9:00: Retires to bed feeling as light as a sheer silk veil worn by Muslim women of Arab origin.

…many thanks, m’Lady, Seher…

Seher Hashmi is a mummified poet, a classified satirist and a bona fide healthoholic. She lives by the lull of songs, lyrics, ballads, poems and spoken words, poetry and often records her rhythmic repertoire via her blog space. Her poems and imagery are inspired by the work of three iconic women of varying time zones: Maya Angelou, Arundhati Roy and Sia Furler. She is an active member of the Bahrain Writers Circle; her work has been published in prestigious magazines Muslim World Today, BLUE MINARET and in two anthologies of international poets titled, ‘THE ELEMENTS’ and ‘EROS’, compiled by Bahrain-based author Robin Barratt. Currently she is working on her first chap book of poetry with a passion known only to her.

https://charmedlassblog.wordpress.com/

Contact on Fb@SeherHashmi

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…you’d have to be crazy to go out in a night like that!…

…as I’m currently residing in the Middle East, it seemed a bit pointless to mark oneself  ‘safe’ during the storms that recently belted the Scottish coastline, but it brought back mem’ries of a similar episode going back over 45 years ago… to the time when Master Gallacher was serving his apprenticeship as a Trainee Master of the Financial Universe in the employ of the majestic Clydesdale & North of Scotland Bank in its branch at Tobermory on the beautiful Isle of Mull in the Scottish Hebrides...

…as a callow, bachelor Yoof, I shared lodgings with some excellent lads, characters all, as were the landlord and landlady, the wunnerful Alex and Betty Beaton… the digs sat on the crest of a hill overlooking the town (see the picture above)… access to the lower reaches of Tobermory was made by a dirt-track with its double-ruts, caused by vehicle wheels over many months and years, and when the rain came, which was often, wellington boots were the only footwear suitable to make the descent into the town… the day (and night) I remember vividly, saw a hurricane-force gale, relentlessly battering  the Scottish West Coast, including the islands… we lads, trapped inside the bungalow up on the hill, replete with a warm, cozy fire, initially hunkered down with a beer and a dram to wait until the next morning before venturing out… or so we intended… it’s amazing how a germ of an idea, coupled with boredom, causes restless daftness to appear… the rain was pounding horizontally against the window panes, transforming into glazed rivulets… and the gusts smacked the place like a heavyweight boxer’s onslaught… now here’s the key thing… the Mishnish pub was downtown, at the far end of the Main Street… the discussion began , ‘Should we go down and have a few?’, half-hearted responses were… ‘you’d have to be crazy to go out in a night like that’… needless to say, ten minutes later, myself, and my lodging buddies, Archie MacDonald, Ronnie Welsh, and the man from Stornoway, Neil (Cheery) MacKenzie, were kitted out in sou’ westers, wellies, and raincoats… yes,. we were crazy!… we struggled downtown, with the firm knowledge that we were the only lunatics in Tobermory who would be doing this… we reached the door of the pub and went in… the place was packed!… music belting out from a piano in the centre of the bar area, a fiddler and a couple of accordions…

…a full metal jacket ceilidh in progress!… and of course, the weather was far too wild to attempt to retrace our steps back up the hill… the ceilidh lasted on until the wee, wee, hours of the morning… when it was considered by all to be safe enuff to brave the elements again… Islanders know how to handle storms! … see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

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…being a literary ‘parent’ is precious…

 

…it usually starts innocently enuff… a wee WURD or a turn of phrase tickles the writing brain… whimsical, prob’ly… amusing, even more prob’ly… comes then the wish to have it embedded in the narrative… sum’where, anywhere, really… from there, the mind begins to expand on the WURD or phrase… embracing it with whole sentences… protecting it from the barrage of mere ordinary prose… making it the little ‘Queen Bee‘ in the Writer’s creative scribbling… association of ideas kicks in… paragraphs begin to emerge… linkage and flow push forward… and presto, hey!… chapters evolve… pause for wordsmithing breath… another gleam of prosaic individuality appears, a sibling to the original… sum’times at a tangent, other times choosing simply to be in lockstep to reinforce the first literary brainwave… the novel/book/tome ‘teases out’, and sum’times it stubbornly ‘difficults out’ from the Author’s grey cells… ordinary life (whatever that may be) is subsumed to the focus on polishing the WURK… crafting, sculpting, honing what has now become an entire tribe of related ideas, WURDS, phrases, sentences… future thoughts of publishing the masterpiece are a galaxy distant at this time… no time this for indulgence in the Luddite dreams of universal readership acceptance… no… this is the highly personal, unique birthing period of a mind-child… the transference of thought and creativity from person to paper or electronic mapping device… gestation may take weeks, months, or several years… but it is in this stretch of commitment that an Author’s WURK truly becomes their baby… it is in this stretch that the genes pass from the parent to the child… the later to-be-recognised features that identify the lineage… in some quarters, this is known as the ‘Authors Voice’… and it is as precious as any relationship a Writer is ever likely to have… my own wee babies are listed below… being a literary parent is precious… and I am just the proudest Daddy to each and every one of them… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!...

THE VIOLIN MANS LEGACY

myBook.to/theviolinmanslegacy

VENGEANCE WEARS BLACK

myBook.to/vengeancewearsblack

SAVAGE PAYBACK

myBook.to/savagepayback

KILLER CITY

myBook.to/calderkillercity

DEADLY IMPASSE

myBook.to/Calderdeadlyimpasse

A FEW POETRY STOPS IN A LIFE’S JOURNEY

myBook.to/poetrystops

 

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…Authors, fear not, the ‘business’ of story-telling is limitless…

…the phrase, ‘there are only seven story plots’  is an old chestnut, averred by alleged ‘literary’ pundits over the years… I’m not convinced, but my take on it is a bit broader… even if the assumption of the surreptitious, silvery, slippery seven is correct… how does it explain the millions of books, novels and stories that have filled our libraries and bookshops for the past coupla thousand years?… p’raps the not-so-secret clue is in the actual ‘telling’ of the story… ask any theatre performer what differentiates a great performance from a merely good performance, and they will say “it’s in the ‘business’ on stage”… in other WURDS, “it’s the way they tell ’em”… such it is with any great book…

…granted, there are those authors whose use of vocabulary is outstanding, but even the simplest unfolding of a narrative can contain that magical element that glues readers’ eyeballs to the pages… that hypnotic ‘sum’thing’ that makes the reader put the book down when finished and think, “…wow, that was a terrific read…”… as an author, I don’t think it’s normal to approach the writing with the intent to create a book that elicits such a reader response… it should flow naturally… it takes practice… it demands constant attention to honing the scribbling skills… it demands an eye to grammar, syntax, and all the usual suspects for producing a good novel or book…

…but above all, it requires the imagination of the storyteller… the imagination that has lived down through the centuries in every language… the ability to conjure images in print that sparkle in the minds of every person who deigns to read the book… myth, fable, and fact all get thrown into the mix, and the creative ‘take’ from the writer makes that blend compelling… and when it comes to that, then forget about the ‘only seven stories’Authors, fear not, the ‘business’ of story-telling is limitless… and we, as readers and as writers, we thank the literary Gods for that… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

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…of Gaelic airs and grace notes in the Park Bar in Glasgow…

…this cutting from The Oban Times, dated around 1970, sent to me recently by Eric Macintyre, the youngest son of the incomparable Angus Macintyre, my Manager at the Clydesdale & North of Scotland Bank branch in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull… Angus was a legend in the ceilidh circuit in Argyllshire and beyond… the article has my passport-version English name ‘Jim’... the ‘Seumas’ evolved from the Gaelic after becoming a successful Mod multi-medal winner for Celtic singing back in the day… the piece evoked mem’ries galore, not the least of which was the regular visits to Glasgow, where the famed Park Bar was a magnet for all visiting and Glasgow-based Scottish Highlanders and Islanders…

…every evening featured ad hoc ceilidhs, with usually always several people present who had won singing medals at local or National Mods in their time… there was little in musical accompaniment, the Gael being well able to carry a song without instruments, although on occasion an accordionist or fiddle-player would turn up to add to the party…

…there was no formal leader… sumb’dy would say, ‘hey, Seumas, give us a song’, or ‘Mhairi, how about a duet’, and off it would start… one of the regulars who turned up was the marvellous Donald Macrae

…what a tenor voice… no ‘big-shotism from any of those who joined in, many with singing achievement credentials that would have made their Mammys proud… the songs of the glens and the islands rang loud and lilting, with that communal camaraderie that defines the Scot… of course, added to the mix, the ubiquitous ‘electric soup’ was quaffed in splendid quantity… when the barman’s ‘last drinks please’ call closed the ceilidh, often the ‘after-ceilidhs’ in sumb’dy’s digs sprouted easily… the next morning’s hangovers were a small price to pay for such superb entertainment… I miss it greatly, but I can still conjure up in my head the resonance of Donal’ Macrae’s’ Dark Island’, and Calum Kennedy’s ‘Mo Mathair’ … have a wee nostalgic listen here…

…and I am partly sated… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!…

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

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